Lineage 2 is a 3D fantasy free-to-play MMORPG developed by NCSoft. It’s one of the most popular South Korean MMORPGs to make it to Western shores. Set 150 years before the original Lineage, this prequel offers a PvP-centric version of an MMORPG experience. The story spans two continents enveloped in war. There is a constant power struggle between three kingdoms, giving plenty of opportunities for player-versus-player combat.
Lineage 2’s initial 2004 North American release saw a much stronger emphasis on PvP. Since then, the game has changed in a number of ways through content patches and updates. It wasn’t until 2011 that Lineage 2 saw its biggest change yet, becoming free to play. With the introduction of a system called “Truly Free,” players gained access to all areas and content in the game. Lineage 2 has everything you would expect in such a well-established and popular MMORPG, from siege warfare all the way to massive, multi-man raids.
To play, you need to create an NCSoft account, but this only takes a minute or two. You will already have an account if you have played other games by NCSoft, such as AION or Guild Wars 2.
The first thing you notice about Lineage 2 is how nice the graphics look, even by today’s standards. When I first launched the game, I was immediately reminded of Vagrant Story by Square for the original PlayStation, but nicer. It has the same feel of that world and I was drawn in straight away.
For your character, there are seven races to chose from. The character creation suite isn’t the most in-depth around, but there are enough options to make interesting and unique characters in every race.
However, Lineage 2 offers very few choices in class when first creating a character. As you progress through the game, you find that there are 36 classes on offer, working more like a career path than a typical class in MMORPGs. When you hit levels 20, 40, 76 and 85, you will be choosing your next class.
For example, a Human Fighter can become one of three other classes, a Warrior, a Knight or a Rogue, which each has progressions tied to them. You end up as one of six potential powerful classes depending on what path you choose to take. This is the case for every class/race combo, leading to a greater depth of character customization through skills and abilities.
After creating your character is where the game instantly falls down. The movement controls are antiquated at this point. The game gives you the option of using the more conventional WASD movement system as well as the click-to-move system found more commonly in isometric RPGs. I thought I would be able to play through this massive setback of unlearning my muscle memory from other RPGs, using left-click to interact only, and maybe every now and again shift the camera with a drag.
I quickly found out that this choice in movement controls wasn’t the only thing that would stop me from really enjoying Lineage 2. The movement itself was clunky, not just the input. Every now and again my character would just completely stop moving, no matter what button I pressed or how hard I pressed it. I would be running fine and just stop dead, left hammering W and left-clicking like a man possessed.
Outside of the movement issues, everything else is perfectly serviceable when you remember the game is over 15 years old at this point. Combat feels surprisingly good and the characters interact with the world in a believable way. Speaking of the world, it may be one of Lineage 2’s few saving graces. It feels like not only Vagrant Story but also high fantasy Europe mixed with just a dash of anime.
Lineage 2 differs from other MMORPGs in another area, the skill system. Instead of choosing what skills you will have after a level up, you instead are giving Skill Points every time you defeat an enemy. SP are gained on their own terms, independently of experience gained, and can be used to learn or improve skills.
Lineage 2 was previously thought of as a grindy game, taking forever to get anywhere. But this has been addressed by NCSoft who have bumped up experience gains. Landing on servers with a new system known as “Path to Awakening” allows level 85 players to achieve a new class and have access to more powerful abilities.
All in all, Lineage 2 may not be for everyone. It certainly isn’t for me, but I can see why people who have invested as much time into it have done so. There is a lot to do and see in the world of Lineage 2 and I don’t think it will be going away any time soon as the player base continues to climb. You can download Lineage 2 for free from the official website.
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